Wags and Purrs: Top 5 Ways to Spoil our Pets

Does your dog or cat enjoy the luxury of a king sized bed at the expense of your own good night’s sleep? What about those rain-or-shine 5 A.M. walks? Do your fur-children eat only the finest high-quality protein, while you have the occasional ice cream for dinner? If all of these ring true, your pet might be a little spoiled — but we prefer the term well-loved! Go ahead and indulge with these top 5 ways to spoil our pets.

woman-with-curly-brown-hair-smiling-and-nuzzling-senior-golden-retriever

1.) Spa Day

What better way to pamper your pup than with a spa day? The Dog Salon in Charlotte is the perfect stop for a day of luxury. The grooming options for small and large breeds range from “just a trim” to a DIY bath to a full-service star beauty treatment. Time for a nail appointment? Add on a manicure for your little prince or princess. Extra services include therapeutic shampoo options, flea treatments, teeth brushing, nail polish, and funky fun fashion colors!

2.) Kitty Camp

Warmer days are fantastic for a kitty-and-me play date! Cats love games as much as dogs. Keep your feline friendly busy with a variety of mentally stimulating activities. Build an indoor obstacle course for your cat out of old boxes and watch the fun begin. Try some catnip bubbles to draw kitty’s attention. Turn your cat’s water bowl into a fun fountain or let the faucet drip while kitty enjoys splashing around. When it’s time to sunbathe, a hanging window ledge is a great way to ensure maximum relaxation.

3.) Summer Lovin’

Take your dog for a swim! Many of Charlotte’s local lakes, creeks, and streams are dog-friendly and perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day. Reedy Creek Nature Center and Preserve is a go-to for many Charlotte dog owners as temperatures begin to heat up. The expansive park is home to several small lakes that offer a cozy picnic spot for you and your best furry friend. Feeling adventurous? Take your dog on a stand-up paddle board ride — but don’t forget the life jacket!

When it’s time to head home, treat your pet to some extra love with a refreshing pupsicle.

4.) Choose Your Own Adventure

Take your pet to the store and let them pick out their own toys and treats! Whatever your furbaby picks is what your activity for the day will be. If your furchild goes for a frisby, take them to the park. If they’re more of a snuggly cuddle toy type, an indoor movie day is your destination. Save the treats to enjoy on your adventure!

Trying to keep your pet’s health in mind as well as spoil them? Opt for nutritious snacks over junk food. High protein, grain-free and all natural varieties will please your pet just as much. Pawtique in Charlotte is a delightful holistic pet shop that offers an array of options for your pet lead shopping spree.

5.) Playtime, Cuddle Time, and More

One thing is certain — we love our pets! But spoiling our furchildren can be difficult when work, school, kids, and life get in the way. If your busy lifestyle has got your pet feeling like less of a prince or princess, scheduling a weekly play date is the perfect pick-me-up.

At Little Friends, our caring, knowledgeable sitters are flexible and work around your schedule. Set up a short 20-minute play date, half an hour, or a full hour. Dogs, cats, and even exotics will benefit from individualized play, cuddles, and pampering. We provide companionship, walks, and treats (at the owner’s discretion) along with regular meal times and care.

Schedule a recurring visit every month, week, or day and keep your pet feeling like the royalty they are!

Smile! February is National Pet Dental Month

Is your pet ready to flash those pearly whites? February is National Pet Dental Month — the perfect time to brush up on health, wellness, and oral care for your pet. Dogs, cats, and even exotics need plenty of TLC when it comes to their teeth. Consider these dental hygiene tips and deals to keep your best friend smiling brighter.

mixed-breed-dog-looking-at-camera-with-mouth-open-while-sitting-near-empty-bowl

Strike Back Against Plaque: Preventative Pet Dental Care At Home

From tug-of-war to scarfing down their favorite treats, our pets’ mouths get quite the workout. A wellness routine is highly important when it comes to preventing tooth decay, dental disease, and detecting signs of illness early.

Need a Mint?

From abscesses to plaque, dental disease is no laughing matter. Know the signs and symptoms of illness in your pet, including:

  • Bad breath
  • Reddened or irritated gums
  • Lumps and bumps around the gum and jaw area
  • Difficulty eating or picking up toys
  • Bleeding from the gums
  • Yellowed or discolored teeth
  • Overgrown teeth (in exotics)
  • Pawing at the mouth and exhibiting signs of distress

If your furbaby is experiencing any of these persistent symptoms, it’s a sure sign that a trip to your friendly neighborhood vet is in order.

Fortify and Protect

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but brushing your dog’s teeth can keep the vet away! Dogs and cats both benefit from routine brushing. Avoid pet foods that are high in chemical additives. Junk foods can wear down the enamel in your pet’s teeth, making them more susceptible to dental diseases. Instead, spoil them with love and healthy fare! Dental treats and chews are a great option for daily oral upkeep. 4 Paws Holistic has a huge selection of all natural, grain free diets, toys, chews, and treats designed to benefit overall dental health.

Little guys need love too! Rabbits, hamsters, and chinchillas have teeth that are constantly growing. Malocclusion can pose a serious health risk if your small friend’s fangs aren’t kept at bay. Be sure to provide chew toys made from safe woods, along with a variety of hay and a wholesome diet. Pumice stones are a great option for exotics, such as chinchillas. Toys help mimic wild behavior and keep your jungle creature happy and mentally stimulated as well as healthy.

The Buzz Around Town: Dental Deals in Charlotte

While preventative care is crucial to your pet’s well-being, no amount of brushing can replace regular pet dental cleanings.

West Ballantyne Animal Hospital

If you’re new to the Charlotte area or just new to parenting a furchild, West Ballantyne is currently offering $20 off your pet’s first exam. A caring team of professionals offers comprehensive dental care, cleanings, and early detection of periodontal disease.

Charlotte Natural Animal Clinic

Looking for a holistic alternative? Charlotte Natural Animal Clinic offers a range of services including non-anesthetic dental cleanings and dietary coaching. Check out their blog for monthly deals and alerts.

Uptown Veterinary Hospital

Uptown Veterinary Hospital is currently offering a pet dental cleaning package, complete with a full blood panel, half off during the month of February. Take advantage of this great offer while it lasts!

Griffin Exotics

Need a teeth trim for a bunny or a dental check-up for your hedgehog? This facility specializes in caring for avians and exotics. A knowledgeable and caring place to take your wild ones!

Looking for more ways to stay smiling in Charlotte? Give our friendly dog walkers a call and book your best friend’s next adventure! Our compassionate, dedicated staff of professional animal lovers are available for outings, home care, pet sitting, and so much more. New pet owner? Check out the first time cat owner’s guidebook and let us know what makes your furbaby smile!

Healthy Eating Tips for Pets and the People Who Love Them

Beautiful tabby cat sitting next to a food bowl, placed on the floor next to the living room window, and eating.

Leap into the new year with a new perspective on health and wellness — for you and your pets! Looking for an accountability buddy? Look no further than your own furry best friend. Get in gear with these healthy eating tips for pets and the people who love them.

Ditch the Filler, Love the Fluff

Wholesome is healthy for both people and pets! If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. Steer clear of chemicals and preservatives, such as BHT and BHA. These additives are harmful, known carcinogens to both people and pets. Food dyes are often added to pet food to create the red and yellow tint in dog or cat kibble. You might be surprised to find many of our favorite chips, cookies, and candies also use this trick. Be sure to read the ingredients on every bag to ensure your choices are healthful — not colorful.

Other fillers to avoid include rendered fat, blood and bone meal, corn, grain, and meat by-products. A healthful diet should be rich in essential fatty acids, protein, and nutrients. Switching to a natural diet will leave your fluffy friend glowing with improved coat and skin wellness. Keep them — and you — shining from the inside out!

Goodbye Gluten 

Yes, we said it. The “G” word. The grainy truth is that going gluten-free is a great way to detox, cleanse, and shed pounds. In humans, a gluten-free diet has been linked to overall improvement in immune system function. Gluten can cause bloating and fatigue, providing limited nutritional value in return. Even a gluten-limited lifestyle is dramatically beneficial in promoting wellness.

Making a change on your own is never easy. That’s why your furbaby is here to help! In dogs, gluten can cause or exasperate allergens, leading to red, itchy skin and ears. Most often found in low-quality dry food, gluten is a filler in disguise, taking the place of ingredients naturally found in the canine diet.

Cats are strict carnivores and should ideally be fed both a grain-free and gluten-free diet. High protein and low starch is key to kitty health.

Even the smallest furry friends, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas, aren’t safe from cheap pellet mixes with added cereal, treats, and — you guessed it — gluten. Opt for quality over fun colors or shapes when it comes to selecting the right diet for your tiny companion.

Pack in the Protein

You may have heard of the Ketogenic diet, but did you know pets crave a high protein, low carb diet too? A balanced ratio of quality protein with minimal carbs promotes energy and wellness. Test the protein boost out with an extra lap around the park!

Sensible Helpings

It’s easy to treat ourselves — and our pets — during the holidays. A little indulgence is fine every once in a while, but the new year is a great time to check in on portion sizes. Read nutritional information on the back of each bag and check in with your veterinarian for recommended feeding guidelines. Keeping a food journal can be a helpful way to track calories and stay on track.

Exotic Focus

There may be a wealth of options when it comes to feeding your cat or dog a natural, healthful diet, but exotic pet owners may need a little help when it comes to feeding their jungle beast. Birds, sugar gliders, and reptiles all require fresh food in their daily routine for kidney, liver, and overall wellness. Consulting an exotic pet veterinarian is the best way to determine which diet is right for your wild child. A host of fruits, vegetables, and yogurt on standby can provide encouragement to eat clean, fresh, and healthy alongside your pet!

For more sensible treat options, check out Charlotte’s First Cat Cafe.

Little Friends Pet Sitting & Dog Walking is here for your pet when you can’t be. With petsitting options for all creatures great and small, pawsitively outstanding dog walkers, and GPS tracking for your on-the-go pup, we’re here to help everyone stay on target in the new year! Contact us today to schedule your dog’s first adventure!

5 Tips to Help Your Pup with Separation Anxiety in Charlotte

Shaggy terrier dog looking out window with sad expression

Have you recently adopted a new dog to be part of your family? Once you brought them home have you discovered some behaviors that might indicate that they are experiencing separation anxiety?

Your neighbors might start telling you that as soon as you leave your home your new pup barks, howls and whines the whole time. Perhaps you have noticed scratching at doors or windows or destructive chewing of furniture or objects in the home that are not intended to be dog toys.

Becoming part of a new home can be a very stressful time on a dog. Imagine if you have been put up for adoption one or more times and you can’t understand why the people around you don’t want to stay with you. Charlotte is a very dog-friendly place, and we have a lot of ideas for your new family member to feel more at home. These tips will help your new dog feel okay about being home alone for periods of time without suffering from separation anxiety.

Give Them a Den to Feel Comfortable In

Dogs feel comfortable when they have a den that they can call home. Giving your dog a crate is an in-home equivalent of that kind of home. Allow your pup time to get used to being in the crate while you are home. This way the crate doesn’t become an automatic signal that they are going to be left alone.

When you see your dog getting sleepy, encourage them to go into their crate and curl up for a nap. When they wake up they will see that you are still at home they start to feel comfortable that this new den is safe for them. When you put them in their crate when you are about to leave, do it with the same sort of actions, encouraging them to go into their den to get some rest.

Skip the Goodbye Routine

Just like humans, dogs can get caught up in routines, and they start to see the signs of your going away actions. They watch for things like: you getting dressed, brushing your teeth, grabbing your keys, putting on your coat and starting up your car. If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety all of these things start to ratchet up their fear of being left alone and not knowing when or if you will be coming back.

Sometimes we even want to make them feel better and start to tell them goodbye and I’ll be back which become more audio clues to them that they are in for a period of separation. Help your pup by breaking up those routines so the pattern is not so obvious. Try taking your jacket out to the car, and then returning to them so they know you are coming back. Another idea is leaving out of a different door so they don’t attach the front door with fear. Most importantly, make your actions unimportant. Leaving should be just a normal part of the day instead of something to get anxious about.

Give Them Plenty of Exercise

Dogs can be a lot like kids. Go ahead and tire them out with exercise and they will be ready to take a nap instead of getting into something they should not be doing. Charlotte has so many options for you to choose when you want to spend quality time together. If you love to hike, take your new pup to the U.S. National Whitewater Center or  McDowell Nature Center and Preserve where they can join you on a 6 foot leash or shorter. If you are looking for a dog park option you can try Frazier Park which offers a fenced in 1.3 acres and even contains a sectioned off area for smaller dogs. Then if you are not too tired, you can stop by Canine Cafe for some special treats and a chance to meet new friends.

Get Extra Companionship With a Pet Sitter

If you are going to be gone for a long period of time, your dog will benefit from getting a visit to take them out for a walk. At Little Friends Pet Sitting & Dog Walking we can provide long walks as well as play time or cuddle time to make your pet less anxious.

We feel it’s important to get to know your dog personally and we do this with unlimited, free in-home consults. So when we come to pet sit, your pup is already familiar with us and will be looking forward to the social interactions.

Give Them a Smell of You

Dogs use their sense of smell to understand and process the world around them. They feel comfort when they smell your scent. So, if your dog has separation anxiety it may help them to have access to something that smells like you during your time away. Think about leaving them with your pajamas that you wore last night, or an undershirt that you wore the day before. Make sure it’s something that you are okay if they chew on, if their anxiety is severe.

As you and your new pup start your life together there will be a lot of things that you will learn about each other. You have the opportunity to help your new friend feel confident and relaxed in their new home. Please let us know if there are any questions you have about separation anxiety and how we can help either of you.

December is National Cat Lovers Month

A cute little girl with brown hair wearing a santa hat, hugs her kitten. They both look loving and sweet.

December is National Cat Lovers Month, but most cat lovers know that cats expect appreciation every day of the year. For those of us who love cats, it’s a good time to remember that we should show some extra love to our feline friends this holiday season. Here are some great ways to celebrate cats in December:

Contribute to a Cat Cause

If you don’t have a cat friend of your own at home, consider volunteering time or making a donation to local cat shelters. Volunteering is especially important during the holiday season, because shelters can be understaffed, with regular volunteers having other commitments or needing to travel for the holidays.

The Charlotte Animal Care and Control Department needs volunteers, foster families, and donations. They make it easy with an Amazon Wish List that can easily fit in with the rest of your holiday shopping, and you can know you are helping cats in need.

Winter is especially hard on feral and wild cats, and Feline Urgent Rescue and Rehab can really use your support in December. You can help by volunteering, fostering, or sponsoring a kitty in need. Sponsoring helps support the cost of taking care of a cat until it is adopted, and you also get monthly emails and pictures with updates.

Foster a Furry Friend

Fostering cats is a wonderful way to help them find forever homes. Foster families help shy cats become more comfortable and sociable, or help ill or injured cats recover safely, so that they are ready for their next adventure. Fostering is a critical part of the adoption process, and opening your home to cats in need is a wonderful way to give them a better life. Foster opportunities are available with:

The Humane Society of Charlotte

Catering to Cats and Dogs

Adopt an Adorable Animal

Adopting a pet is a big responsibility, and should not be taken lightly. And you should never give pets as a holiday gift, however tempting it may be. If you want to bring home or give a pet during the holiday season, it’s best to discuss it first with your family members, and adopt a pet after the holiday season.

It’s better to adopt an animal when your home has calmed down, and your schedule is less busy, and you have more time to devote to a new pet. When considering giving a pet as a gift, consider giving a “gift certificate” instead, and offering to help them adopt a pet after the holidays. Let them choose the pet that is the best match for their lifestyle and personality. When you are ready to adopt, here are some great ways to do it:

Precious Paws Rescue has a lot of great programs, including special support for seniors adopting older pets, sponsorship opportunities, and you can even donate gently used pet supplies to their program. They also have a wonderful “foster to adoption” option, where you can foster a pet and potentially adopt it. This is a great way to find out if a new cat is a good, permanent, fit for your home.

Visit Mac Tabby. At Mac Tabby, you can enjoy coffee or tea and a snack, and hang out with one of their beautiful, adoptable cats at the same time. Not only is it just a great way to spend some quality time with cats, but it’s also a good way to find a cat that you may want to take home and live with forever.

Care for Your Constant Companion

Finally, you can continue to show your own cat the love, care, and appreciation they deserve. If you are traveling during the holidays, Little Friends Pet Sitting and Dog Walking would be happy to care for your cat just as lovingly as you do. Contact us to learn more, and have a fantastic December!

Anxious Cat? Giving Your Kitty a Calm and Happy Holiday Season

an anxious cat near a sack full of Christmas gifts

The holidays are a busy time full of new experiences. This can make for a stressful time for your kitty and, in turn, for you. Luckily, there are ways you can help your anxious cat remain calm and happy this holiday season. Let’s take a look at the important things in a cat’s life, and how you can maximize their comfort by understanding their point of view.

Sense of Smell

Your cat’s sense of smell is much more acute than humans’. In fact, they mark their scent on objects and people to help them feel safe and secure. This is also how they place boundaries on their space. When you are cleaning your house, try to leave your cat’s favorite area somewhat undisturbed so their natural pheromones will remain a comfort to them. Think about things like their tree, scratching posts, bedding, even their carrier. This way, when things get stressful for them, they will have a place to retreat to and feel calm and safe.

Sensitive Hearing

Your cat’s hearing is also better than a human’s. In fact, it’s approximately four times more sensitive than ours. Cats also hear higher frequencies than we can, but they have a harder time determining where sounds are coming from. This is why your kitty can be startled when we think we are using a normal tone of voice.

A nice quiet volume will help to keep your cat calm, whether it is a low soothing voice when you are petting them, or some soft music playing in the background. When the volume is up, like when you are having a party, provide a hideaway that can mute the sounds. This may mean placing towels or blankets over their bedding or carrier so they can block out some of the uncomfortable noise.

Importance of Routine

During the holidays it is important to keep up a routine to help your kitty feel relaxed and happy. Routines can include their wake up tactics, feeding schedule, nap times, getting brushed, having their favorite treats, and play times. Each of these events have a meaning and purpose to your cat, so maintaining these normal behaviors will help you keep their holidays happy.

Keep Essentials Convenient

You know your cat’s behavior better than anyone, so work with them to make things as stress-free as possible. For example, if you know that they run to the master bedroom when they get scared or nervous, you might expect that they will spend the entire day of the big party in there.

As you are cleaning, cooking, and getting ready for the big event, they know that something new is coming. Then the actual party itself will bring new challenges for them to face. Prepare this space with an easily accessible litter box, food, treats and toys to keep your kitty comfortable and able to control their environment.

Let Them Stay Home With Little Friends Pet Sitting & Dog Walking

We love our pets, and we want to include them in the important parts of our lives as well as the day-to-day living. However, sometimes we need to consider what would be best for our friends and make appropriate arrangements. If your cat hates any kind of car trip, perhaps it’s time to think about having your cat stay at home while you make your holiday trip.

Little Friends Pet Sitting & Dog Walking can help you out over the holidays in a number of ways. During our cat visits, we make sure to keep your kitty happy and cared for by providing fresh food, water, and litter box maintenance. We also get to know your kitty ahead of time with our free in-home consults, so we will be able to spend some quality time with their favorite type of play or special grooming time.

You’ll receive an online report card update about your cat while you’re away. We will also help you with mail retrieval, rotating blinds and lights and even watering plants. Your cat will be well taken care of while you are away for the holidays, and both of you will have time to enjoy the season. Instead of returning to an anxious cat, you’ll come home to a calm kitty!

We hope that you and your kitty have the happiest of holidays!

 

 

Adopt a Kitty: Charlotte’s First Cat Cafe and Other Local Cat Rescues

If spending some quality time with happily purring felines is your cup of tea, you’ll love the “cat cafe” concept at Charlotte’s Mac Tabby. Embracing a trend that’s spreading across the country, Charlotte’s first cat cafe allows patrons to pay by the hour to hang out with their very special cats. With a terrific menu featuring local coffees, teas, kombucha, and snacks, the cafe area is actually kept separate from the cat lounge. Guests are allowed to take their food and drinks in with them as long as they don’t share with the kitties.

a sleeping cat at a cat cafe in Charlotte

Many guests find themselves falling in love with one of the cats after their visiting time is up, and that’s okay! All the feline friends at Mac Tabby are searching for a family and are available for adoption! In fact, finding homes for orphaned kitties is one of the cafe’s biggest priorities. Mac Tabby also offers live music, cat yoga, art with cats, and kitty time for kids. Make a reservation online or drop-by for a unique experience where you just might find your next feline family member.

If you don’t have time to sip a latte or do a little cat pose with the kitties at Mac Tabby but you’re thinking of adopting, you can always adopt a cat through a number of local cat rescues. Try checking out these spots for kitties in need of a home.

Catering to Cats and Dogs

Catering to Cats and Dogs is the volunteer rescue group that works with Mac Tabby to keep their cafe full of adoptable felines, and you can work with them directly if you prefer. They pull cats from crowded animal control facilities where they may be facing euthanasia. They then place them in foster homes while they wait to find their new family.

Catering to Cats and Dogs stands out as one of Charlotte’s local cat rescues thanks to the adoption events they host throughout the greater Charlotte area. You can also virtually visit and inquire about their adoptable cats on their website. All Catering to Cats and Dogs pets, including the cats at Mac Tabby, are all fully vetted and microchipped before being placed in their new homes.

The Humane Society

Of course, The Humane Society of Charlotte is also a great place to find a purr-fect new family member. The Humane Society has a no-kill philosophy and offers shelter, medical care, and rehabilitation for homeless pets until they find loving homes. They house a large number of cats at their main facility, where visitors may meet and interact with cats in person. Their currently available cats are also listed online. Like most local cat rescues, they make sure their adopted kitties go home with a spay or neuter, all shots, and a chip. Cats adopted from the Humane Society also come with 30 days of free veterinary insurance.

More Resources and Local Cat Rescues

A few other local cat rescues where you can find cats looking for a fur-ever family include:

Remember, when you adopt a cat from Mac Tabby, or any rescue group or shelter, you’re really saving two lives. The one you take home, for sure, but by adopting you’ve created an opening at the cafe, shelter, or foster home. This makes room for them to help another orphan, as well.

Taking Care of Your New Feline Friend

Once you’ve brought your new four-legged family member home from one of these local cat rescues, Little Friends Pet Sitting is ready to help. When you’re out of town, we will take care of your cat as one of our own. We offer daily visits for cats from just a quick 10-minute check-in all the way up to a full hour. We’ll make sure the litter box is clean, fresh water is available, and that your kitty is fed, groomed, and enjoys some playtime with favorite toys. We can even schedule overnight stays so your cat doesn’t have to spend a night alone. Please contact us today if you’d like to learn more about our special services for cats. We’d love to help!

Help Your Pup Enjoy the Season With These Fall Treats for Dogs

small dog fall sweater

Fall is the time of pumpkin spice, apple cider and, especially in Charlotte, beautiful fall colors. With the changing leaves all around us, autumn also brings an opportunity to change up your pup’s usual treats and inject some fun fall flavors into his world, too.

Before you start planning your dog’s fall feast, be sure to check out the AKC’s guide to dog-safe fruits and veggies for a rundown on what seasonal produce is safe for canine consumption. Then shop for a few staples — pumpkin, sweet potatoes, apples, pears and many fall squashes are all safe for dogs. Here are our favorite ideas for fall treats for dogs:

Pumpkin

Pumpkin is chock-full of health benefits for your dog. With vitamins A, C, and E as well as potassium, iron, and fiber, pumpkin has long been used to aid upset stomachs or diarrhea in dogs. Since raw pumpkin isn’t easily digestible for your pup, the easiest option is to pick up some canned pumpkin puree. Be sure it’s plain pumpkin, though, and not pumpkin pie filling!

For a delicious treat that can also help stave off boredom, fill a hollow bone with a mix of pumpkin puree and plain yogurt, then freeze. Pull it out once hardened for a pumpkin flavored treat your pup is sure to love. Because it’s frozen, it will take him a little longer to get at the yummy filling, which will help to keep him occupied if you’ll be away from home for a while.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are also superstar dog snacks. They are high in fiber, beta-carotene, and vitamins B and C. Like pumpkins, they aren’t terrific for your pup’s tummy when they are raw, but they can be sliced into chips and baked at your oven’s lowest setting for several hours to make a crispy, crunchy fall snack. Or try making your own sweet potato treats using a little whole wheat flour, eggs, and applesauce. Peeled, cubed and cooked sweet potatoes can also make a great occasional treat when added to your dog’s regular meal.

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is another standout that’s rich in vitamin A, potassium and fiber. You can substitute cooked butternut squash for sweet potato in most dog treat recipes, or just like sweet potatoes, you can slice and bake them for a few hours to create crisp chips. Another popular fall flavor, cinnamon, is also safe for dogs, so feel free to sprinkle a little on your squash before baking for a little extra flavor. Steer clear of adding sugar or nutmeg, though. Nutmeg, especially, can be harmful to your furbaby.

Apples

Apples are full of vitamins A, C, and fiber, and add a delicious natural sweetness to your pup’s treats. Peeled and cubed apples actually make a tasty training treat all by themselves. Just make sure to keep them bite-sized, then pop some into a plastic baggy and you’re ready to use them as a training reward.

You can also peel and core an apple, slice it into rings and freeze. Pull out a frozen ring and smear it with a dab of peanut butter for a yummy snack. Another tasty and festive option are these cranberry apple mint treats that look just as delicious as human holiday cookies. To save time, unsweetened applesauce is a great alternative to fresh apples. Just be sure to get the variety that has no added sugar.

Pears

Pears are high in Vitamin C and K as well as fiber, so they are a great choice for a fall surprise. Make sure to remove the seeds, as those aren’t healthy for your pup to ingest. Try mixing some unsweetened applesauce with bite-sized chunks of pear, then spoon it carefully into a KONG or other refillable toy. Pop it in the freezer to create another healthy, long-lasting treat that will keep your dog entertained while he snacks. Of course, like most of these fall favorites, you can slice and bake pear chips, too!

It can be lots of fun and even healthy to share some autumn flavors with your favorite dog. As with any kind of special treats, though, make sure to share fall treats and produce with your dog in moderation. Too much of anything out of the ordinary, even healthy treats, can upset your pet’s stomach.

Fall is a busy, beautiful season in Charlotte. When your plans keep you away from home and you want to make sure your pup is well taken care of, Little Friends Pet Sitting & Dog Walking is here for you! Contact us today to schedule your dog’s next walk, pet taxi ride or pet-sitting service. We’d love to meet you and your furry best friend!

Pet Sitting in Charlotte: 5 Benefits of In-Home Pet Sitting

One major factor when planning an out-of-town trip is deciding who to care for your beloved pets. In a bustling city like Charlotte, busy schedules require keeping a reliable and animal-loving sitter on speed dial. Animal boarding facilities can be loud, messy, and stressful. Dumping your pets on friends can be an awkward and inconvenient practice.

The solution? In-home pet sitting, where a trusted animal lover stays in your own home and provides care for your four-legged family members. Here are five major benefits of in-home pet sitting:

Built-in house sitter

With in-home pet sitting, you have peace of mind knowing the lights are on and someone is home. While away, you can be sure that your mail is getting checked, plants are watered, and other home maintenance is being performed.

Best of all, chances that your house will be the target of burglary or vandalism are greatly reduced. Though you will be away, your home will continue to operate as normal. The mailman will still get barked at, and the cat will still be providing neighborhood watch services at her favorite perch by the window.

Familiar environment 

Keeping pets at home during your time away makes for the easiest transition. Many pets experience anxiety and nervousness, so yanking them out of their familiar environment can send them into a panic. Anxious pets may stop eating and sleeping, or engage in destructive behaviors.

Your pet isn’t accustomed to the different sights, sounds, and smells that often accompany an animal boarding facility. The drastic change can wreak havoc on their nervous and immune systems. Keeping your pet in the comfort of his home is the best way for him to adapt to your time away.

Keeps routines running smoothly

When you board your furry friend, though the caretakers may be great at their job, you cannot control the way they run their kennel. If Rover is used to his 6:00am potty and 7:00am breakfast, unfortunately, he probably won’t be on such a tight schedule away from home. Disrupted routines can increase anxiety in your pet. With in-home pet sitting, you can be sure that routines will stay very close to what they usually are, and he will get the feedings, walks, baths, and play times that he is used to.

More one-on-one attention

Even the most well-staffed boarding facility does not have enough employees to provide one-on-one attention to your pet. Often, boarded animals spend hours in a cage, and don’t get enough attention from their human caretakers. In-home pet sitting provides ample time for your pet’s sitter to snuggle, play with, and love on your fur baby. When your pet is safe at home, you can rest easy, knowing that they won’t be ignored.

Your baby is already there when you get home!

This is the best reason of all to opt for in-home pet sitting: you don’t have to deal with picking up your pet from the kennel. Sometimes after a trip, pet owners have to wait to be able to bring their animal home, due to staffed kennel hours. But with in-home pet sitting, your beloved pet is right where you left him. No need to make an extra trip through Charlotte rush hour traffic before landing at home sweet home.

Don’t let the stress of finding a sitter for your pets keep you from your next vacation. For exceptional in-home pet sitting in Charlotte, check out Little Friends Pet Sitting. Our experienced pet sitters are here to give your fur babies the love and attention they’d otherwise get from you. Looking for more tips and news for pet owners in Charlotte? Check out our other blog posts!

Make Going Back to School in Charlotte Easy for the Whole Family

back to school in Charlotte

Summer is coming to a close and soon everyone will be getting ready to go back to school in Charlotte. Getting prepared for this can seem overwhelming when schedules change for your kids and your pets as well. Starting early to get back into a comfortable routine can make the transition back to school easy. Here are 5 tips to get you started:

1) Establish new bedtimes 

Starting about 7-10 days before the start of school, have everyone in the household start going to bed and waking up according to their school schedules. This will give the kids a chance to get their bodies used to waking up earlier, so the transition isn’t so rough. Although it will be tempting for kids to stay up late for the last few days of vacation, being consistent as the parent will help to make the first weeks of school much more pleasant for everyone.

2) Eating habits 

Another good habit to start 7 to 10 days before school begins is developing a good eating schedule. As everyone goes back to school they will need to consider breakfast, snack, lunch, and an after-school snack to keep their energy up for optimal learning.

A family trip to the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market is always a fun way to include some locally grown treats. Start planning what foods would work best for your family. Remember to take into consideration taste preference, packing considerations, self-sufficiency for packing one’s own daily needs, and budget. Start eating on a schedule that will match everyone’s day so their body can get used to the new routine.

If you need help during this busy time- whether it’s running out to get a bag of your dog’s favorite gourmet dog food, getting groceries for the kids’ lunches, or helping with other errands please let us know how we can help!

3) Get back to reading

If the kids haven’t spent as much of the summer reading books as you planned, it’s time to get back into the reading habit before school starts. Visit your local library or shop in your favorite store. If you visit the Main Library, in the Arts and Education district, you can show your kids all the quotes from historic figures about reading and learning to get them inspired. Set time aside to read for pleasure and practice at the same time. If your children like to be read to, make that part of your bedtime routine.

If you have noticed that your kids are shy about reading out loud, you have the perfect family member to help them out! Research has shown that kids are more confident about reading out loud to a dog because they love sharing time with their human friend. They don’t care if it takes a few tries to sound out a word they don’t know, and they won’t say the word too quickly in an attempt to be helpful. They will simply lay quietly and enjoy the excitement of your child reading out loud. Your child will gain confidence reading to a trusted friend.

4) Stay Connected to nature

Enjoy the end of summer by taking some family walks outside to enjoy the pleasant weather. Your pup will especially love to go along for a walk at McAlpine Creek Park. On your walks, talk about goals or hopes that each family member has for the upcoming school year. After school begins, this outdoor time can be great to discuss what everyone learned throughout the day.

As the weather changes your pets will continue to need scheduled time to get out during the day when their human friends are away. We can schedule walks that include a potty break, GPS tracked walking route, fresh water (and a treat if you would like) and a message update. You can schedule these online at Little Friends Pet Sitting and Dog Walking and see the details of our different options.

5) Make homework a priority

Set up a special study area for each student. Make sure they have the school supplies they need, and that the area is free from distractions such as social media and television.

Teaching them to concentrate on their school work when they are at their study area will make a great habit. Check in with your kids at the end of doing their homework. See if they had any questions that they need help with. Encourage them to try and figure out the answers first by themselves, knowing they have your help if they need it.

As the new school year begins, we hope that all of your family members get into a comfortable routine.  Use these tips to make back to school in Charlotte a breeze. Please contact us if we can make things easier with our dog walking, pet sitting, or errand-running services!